Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his second goal during their Spanish first division soccer match against Getafe at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid January 27, 2013. REUTERS/Juan Medina (SPAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)
Cristiano Ronaldo is off to a tremendous start in 2013. The Portuguese superstar has scored 16 goals in 14 matches this year and currently leads rival Lionel Messi by two goals in the calendar year. Messi has been the best player in the world for the last few years, but his inability to step up for big games against Madrid and AC Milan in the last few weeks has called his status into question. More importantly, Ronaldo's prominence in major matches has created speculation as to whether the Madrid star may finally be ready to take the mantle of "Greatest player in the world" from his Argentine rival.
After the 3-1 win by Madrid over Barcelona, Sergio Ramos stated the following about his Portuguese teammate: "He is the best player in the world and has shown he cannot be criticized for anything." Ronaldo scored two goals in that game while Messi was quiet and stifled throughout the match.
Messi is younger than Ronaldo and there is no major indication that he is on decline. However, Ronaldo has started to prove over the last year that he is turning into a player that can carry his team when the spotlight shines brightest. During the Euro Cup in 2012, he led Portugal to the semifinals almost single handedly. During the two legged Spanish Super Cup, Ronaldo scored two crucial goals that almost proved to be the difference between the two clubs. His performance in the Champions League has been brilliant with his effort against Manchester United being among his best this season. And then comes his play against Barcelona. His two goals against Messi in November proved that he was ready to meet his rival goal for goal. On Tuesday he surpassed Messi in every way possible. While Messi struggled with the tight defense of Madrid, Ronaldo created chaos in Barcelona's backend and was rewarded twice.
Messi may have scored a plethora of goals to end 2012, but most of them were scored against inferior competition with little on the line. When Barcelona needed its chosen one to put up a great game against Milan, Messi became invincible and made questionable plays that are not characteristic of the wizard.
Saturday's tilt will give the world a better indication of which player is having a greater trend upward.